Valverde and Quintana applaud Costa after failed stage 19 shakeup
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Friday, July 19, 2013

Valverde and Quintana applaud Costa after failed stage 19 shakeup

by Kyle Moore at 3:15 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Movistar duo had hoped to put more pressure on Froome but settle for status quo

Alejandro ValverdeOn a long and mountainous day that they had hoped to use to administer more pain to overall leader Chris Froome (Sky Procycling), the Movistar team had to ‘settle’ for the stage win by Rui Costa out of the breakaway, while in the favourites group, they were ultimately unable to put any distance between Movistar leader Nairo Quintana and Froome.

The day with five big categorized climbs ended the way it started, with Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) sitting 5’11” behind Froome. Quintana remains third, with a small deficit to Contador and a slim lead over Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha).

Further down the order however, Movistar man Alejandro Valverde moved up from 11th overall to ninth, thanks to his finish spot ahead of Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Laurens ten Dam (Belkin).

Stage 19 was Costa’s second victory of the race, taken in a similar fashion as his win into Gap on stage 16. The Portuguese rider escaped on the final climb of the day, riding away from the remaining escapees and distancing them further on the downhill to the finish.

Costa’s second victory added another layer of polish to what has already been an outstanding Tour for Movistar, which will hope to maintain Quintana’s podium place – and white jersey – after tomorrow’s final mountain stage.

To try and put pressure on Froome, Movistar chose to wait until the final climb, the Col de la Croix Fry. Valverde attacked up the road, taking John Gadret (AG2R La Mondiale) for company, with the hope that Quintana could bridge up to him later. The move played out, but was covered quickly by Rodriguez, Froome, and Contador.

“It was a really hard stage,” Valverde admitted afterward. “Though we tackled all the climbs at a steady pace, it was a big descent [to the finish], and the rain showed up in the finale to make it a bit more spicy. I knew it was going to be impossible for the others to let me go into the breakaway so I didn't even try it, because being so high in the overall would make all teams defend their own positions. I preferred to stay with Nairo for any need he would have, and on the final climb, he told me to attack so he could bridge later. But ‘Purito’ came with him and they stopped.

“I'm showing again that I have the legs to be on the podium, and I would be there if stage 13 wouldn’t have happened. [Valverde lost 10 minutes in crosswinds – ed.] There's another opportunity tomorrow, but I don't think about the stage win at all. It will still be welcome if it comes, but the team already has two and we have to keep the overall podium. We had another great race today - all the guys were fantastic, we always rode at the front and the reward of Rui's victory was excellent.”

Quintana saluted Costa’s brilliance, as well as Ruben Plaza and Jose Joaquin Rojas, the other two Movistar riders in the day’s large escape. The Colombian stated that he had hoped for the opportunity to attack, but he was stymied by the rain that hit, as well as the high pace Saxo-Tinkoff was pushing.

“We're all really happy about Rui's victory. We had three riders at the front and they did a superb job,” Quintana praised. “This victory proves that we are still a solid team, able to fight for multiple goals.

“In my case, the final climb was really fast and the rain got us a bit out of the mood to attack. We tried to send Valverde ahead in the finale to see if we could bridge later, but we had no chance to attack - at least we ended up still with the podium place, with no troubles. We will have to see how the stage holds tomorrow; sometimes, one thinks that things will go some way, and they turn the other way around in reality. It will be a hard day to stay on the podium and we will have to pay attention to any attack from our rivals."

The two rivals looking to take Quintana’s third place overall will be Kreuziger and Rodriguez. But the Colombian has proved difficult to crack so far, and he has just Saturday’s 125-kilometre stage 20 to survive.

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